Athena Goddess of War and Veterans Day

I'm not sure when the weather bureau started to name our winter nor'easters, but they did this week.

I'm not sure when the weather bureau started to name our winter nor'easters, but they did this week. Athena came on the heels of Sandy and while it was no where near the intensity of Sandy, it did pack enough of a wallop to the SAME area that got hit by Sandy. So maybe the weather geniuses thought it appropriate to name this winter storm.

I do know that the name Athena "Goddess Of War" coming the week of Veterans Day was pretty ironic. I guess the timing was good for us here in New England, but not for the people in Jersey and New York. We had snow and 70 degree weather in less than a week here in New Hampshire. Crazy.

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As I just mentioned it's Veterans Day. November 11th, 2012.

Another Veterans Day has come, and those of us who are active in the community are witness to all the support and thanks bestowed on all Veterans from the schools, to the public gatherings, to social media. It's pretty humbling for a lot of us.

I can't help but think of my late father and father-in-law on this day.

My dad and my father-in-law are part of the long standing tradition of Veterans in my family. All my uncles served in WWII and the youngest served in Korea. I was brought up with Veterans. I was always around them. It was part of my early childhood. The respect and pride they all had was part of the reason why I enlisted. I wanted to continue that tradition.

So I enlisted in the Marines. Even though I was a surfer, I knew this calling to serve my country was deeply embedded in my heart and soul. It was like a destiny of sorts where I had no control but to follow the sound of the drums and bugles.

I was a very proud Marine. I loved (and still do) my country and wanted to help out in any way I could. When the war in Vietnam was heating up I knew I would be going.

And I went with the same intentions as my forefathers did. To help save a nation of people from the evil that was destroying them. I was naive. But I think any 17 year old is. My parents had to sign for me to enlist. I was fresh out of high school.

War is not what you think. There is nothing pretty about it.

I could not wait to get home and go surfing again. But the friends I made while I was there, and the bond I made with other Marines is still with me today. It is forever.

I guess I was not prepared for the treatment we received when we came home. It was nothing like it is today. There were no thank yous, no welcome home gatherings... none of that. In fact, on the airplane coming home, they warned us to take off our uniforms once we touched down. They told us people will yell at you and say awful terrible things. It's all true.

I was so confused by it all. My father and uncles all knew what was happening and they too felt embarrassed by it. How could America turn on it's own Military? Well, the protests against the war started to get more intense with each passing year. It became almost a recreation for a lot of college students.

Some of my own civilian friends were joining in.

Meanwhile, we veterans suffered the fallout of this unpopular war. We could not, and would not, talk about our war experiences, nor would we mention that we were veterans.

For me personally, I tried to grow my hair as fast as I could so I could slip into the scene without standing out like a sore thumb. But that only worked part of the time. Once my fellow college students found out I was a vet, I became a target.

The early to late 70's was a terrible time to be a veteran.

After the Vietnam Wall was erected on Veterans Day in 1982 the whole country shifted it's attitude towards the Vietnam Vet. Overnight a transformation had taken place. It was like we all came out of the closet at once.

The positives that came from that moment has quadrupled today. For you see my friends, it was the Vietnam vet who were the ones to stand up and say... "WE WILL NOT STAND BY AND LET ANOTHER GROUP OF VETERANS BE TREATED THE WAY WE WERE!" So it was the Vietnam Veteran who welcomed home the GULF WAR Vets. It was the Vietnam Veteran who said "Thank You" to the returning Iraqi and Afghanistan Veterans.

Today we are all thanked by almost everyone we meet.

I just thought you should know, that it was not always like that. But thank god that is in the past. For me? I love thanking all Veterans for their service, and I am not ashamed or embarrassed to say that I still get choked up when I am thanked by a friend, loved one, or total stranger. And I love thanking the older WWII Vets as well as the younger vets.

So Thank you to all my fellow Veteran friends and relatives. There are NOW too many to name here, but you all know who you are. And I know you know that I love you all and respect each and every one of you.

Now for Some Of My Weekly Global Observances:

Well, last week... America got out the Vote and it is four more years with our current president. Unlike a lot of people I know, I will support the office of the Presidency with 100 percent conviction. I hope and pray that things work out for all of us. This country is still worth fighting and dying for.

What the hell happend with CIA Director Petraus? Hello?

Patriots are now in first place in the AFC East by barely beating the Bills on Veterans Day... I swear this team is driving me crazy.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jake O'Donnell November 14, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Great blog, Ralph. It's hard to believe the way Vietnam veterans were treated after they came home, but it's important for us to learn from the mistakes of history. Thanks for sharing.
Carolyn Dube November 15, 2012 at 12:26 AM
Ralph, I've heard this story many times, about how difficult it was to come home from Vietnam. In case it hasn't been said enough to you since then, THANK YOU for your service to our country.


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